Stress and PTSD

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16 Responses

  1. ideb8 says:

    Yes, great & timely post – esp. on “National Stress Awareness Day” – as many of the interesting FOI requests for the Met relating to treatment of their own staff do, funnily enough, appear to fall through the black hole called “data is not recorded on our systems in a way that can be easily abstracted”.

    Either the leadership/Home Office is stuck in the 19th century, resources to ensure staff receive reasonable &/or appropriate &/or precautionary care aren’t seen as a priority (no cost benefit? because no analysis?) or deliberate obfuscation hides a “keep out, none of your business” attitude..

    Surely the Home Office should, at a minimum, monitor those organisations under its aegis & identify any not upholding the duty of care they owe to their staff.

    If, for example, it’s fingers insist on lingering in the pie of police crime statistics (aren’t the figs from each force still collected, sent back if ‘questioned’, ‘filtered’ & only then sent on to the ONS?), the Home Office cannot argue that its influence over the way figures are chosen or collected or categorised or collated must be & is always hands-off.

    The Home Office ought surely to have at heart the health – both physical & mental – of all staff affected, especially indirectly, by its own decrees, guidance, diktat or orders etc.

    Why does the Home Office insist on retaining a ‘stake’ in the crime figures yet feel no compulsion to retain one for flesh & blood figures?

    —————————————————————————
    “National Stress Awareness Day: Is the fear of social failure making us more anxious than ever?”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/national-stress-awareness-day-is-the-fear-of-social-failure-making-us-more-anxious-than-ever-9840395.html

  2. ideb8 says:

    Yes, great & timely post – esp. on “National Stress Awareness Day” – as many of the interesting FOI requests for the Met relating to treatment of their own staff do, funnily enough, appear to fall through the black hole called “data is not recorded on our systems in a way that can be easily abstracted”.

    Either the leadership/Home Office is stuck in the 19th century, resources to ensure staff receive reasonable &/or appropriate &/or precautionary care aren’t seen as a priority (no cost benefit? because no analysis?) or deliberate obfuscation hides a “keep out, none of your business” attitude..

    Surely the Home Office should, at a minimum, monitor those organisations under its aegis & identify any not upholding the duty of care they owe to their staff.

    If, for example, it’s fingers insist on lingering in the pie of police crime statistics (aren’t the figs from each force still collected, sent back if ‘questioned’, ‘filtered’ & only then sent on to the ONS?), the Home Office cannot argue that its influence over the way figures are chosen or collected or categorised or collated must be & is always hands-off.

    The Home Office ought surely to have at heart the health – both physical & mental – of all staff affected, especially indirectly, by its own decrees, guidance, diktat or orders etc.

    Why does the Home Office insist on retaining a ‘stake’ in the crime figures yet feel no compulsion to retain one for flesh & blood figures?

    —————————————————————————
    “National Stress Awareness Day: Is the fear of social failure making us more anxious than ever?”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/national-stress-awareness-day-is-the-fear-of-social-failure-making-us-more-anxious-than-ever-9840395.html

  3. david says:

    One reason the police service appears reluctant to acknowledge stress as a ‘work-related’ issue is simply fear and a lack of understanding. Fear of litigation, usually via an employment tribunal; the potential for career and departmental damage.

    Now a few years ago before reaching retirment I reported sick with ‘work related stress’, as in my perception I was the victim of bullying by supervisors. Shortly after I found ‘work related stress’ was not an acceptable description for the official sickness form.

    Occupational Health (OH) offered a consultation, which the Federation advised “do not go alone” and it was very apparent the specialist nurse’s priority was not my helath, but a rapid return to work.

    Then for months I heard nothing from OH, later their explanation was that they simply sent appointment notices, reminders etc to my official e-mail address. Finally I was called in for an appointment with a consultant. When asked why OH had failed to be in contact he responded “Your file was lost”.

    How many times did my departmental senior officer call me over nine months? Once.

    I was placed on half-pay, a decision passed on by phone and no opportunity was given to present my case that my illness was ‘work related’.

    Only when I returned to work was a real counsellor’s services offered and the OH return to work administrator was great in helping.

    So did my employer exhibit proper care? No.

    • Sadly I have heard of other, similar, cases David. The Job just has to get its act together and concentrate more on the wellbeing of their prime assets and less on image or whether they’ll be sued. Maybe they’d be sued less often if they treated the troops properly in the first place.

  4. david says:

    One reason the police service appears reluctant to acknowledge stress as a ‘work-related’ issue is simply fear and a lack of understanding. Fear of litigation, usually via an employment tribunal; the potential for career and departmental damage.

    Now a few years ago before reaching retirment I reported sick with ‘work related stress’, as in my perception I was the victim of bullying by supervisors. Shortly after I found ‘work related stress’ was not an acceptable description for the official sickness form.

    Occupational Health (OH) offered a consultation, which the Federation advised “do not go alone” and it was very apparent the specialist nurse’s priority was not my helath, but a rapid return to work.

    Then for months I heard nothing from OH, later their explanation was that they simply sent appointment notices, reminders etc to my official e-mail address. Finally I was called in for an appointment with a consultant. When asked why OH had failed to be in contact he responded “Your file was lost”.

    How many times did my departmental senior officer call me over nine months? Once.

    I was placed on half-pay, a decision passed on by phone and no opportunity was given to present my case that my illness was ‘work related’.

    Only when I returned to work was a real counsellor’s services offered and the OH return to work administrator was great in helping.

    So did my employer exhibit proper care? No.

    • Sadly I have heard of other, similar, cases David. The Job just has to get its act together and concentrate more on the wellbeing of their prime assets and less on image or whether they’ll be sued. Maybe they’d be sued less often if they treated the troops properly in the first place.

  5. alexnaismith says:

    The Met, from my experience counselling was either non existent or when present, laughable. For example, I was on E/T at DD that morning in ’82 when the IRA bombed the Horseguards and then later that same morning the Royal Green Jackets in Regents Park. I with others attended both incidents. Counselling? Forget it, it was never considered not requested. Conversely in 2002 I was at an incident when a man was holed up in a Mosque threatening attendees with a knife. We attended and disarmed the man with no effort nor injury involved. The Job insisted on group counselling several days later (as if cops will open up in the company of others). The counsellors were two very young women with absolutely no life experience attempting to pass on their valuable book learned work on grizzled coppers. Laughable.
    In 30 years I never had counselling nor heard of anyone ever getting such. I could reel off dozens of critical incidents which I attended e.g. Balcombe Street, Iranian Embassy, Moorgate plus a plethora of mundane incidents like Fataccs, murders etc and although counselling was never offered, I never felt the need either. Perhaps we were made of tougher stuff then.

    • I think it comes back to The John Wayne Syndrome Alex. Not necessarily that we were made of tougher stuff, but ‘real men’ didn’t admit to needing any counselling or support. You had to deal with whatever the day threw your way because there was nobody else, and that experience toughened us. As for group counselling, as you say, forget, would never get off the ground in any meaningful way.

  6. alexnaismith says:

    The Met, from my experience counselling was either non existent or when present, laughable. For example, I was on E/T at DD that morning in ’82 when the IRA bombed the Horseguards and then later that same morning the Royal Green Jackets in Regents Park. I with others attended both incidents. Counselling? Forget it, it was never considered not requested. Conversely in 2002 I was at an incident when a man was holed up in a Mosque threatening attendees with a knife. We attended and disarmed the man with no effort nor injury involved. The Job insisted on group counselling several days later (as if cops will open up in the company of others). The counsellors were two very young women with absolutely no life experience attempting to pass on their valuable book learned work on grizzled coppers. Laughable.
    In 30 years I never had counselling nor heard of anyone ever getting such. I could reel off dozens of critical incidents which I attended e.g. Balcombe Street, Iranian Embassy, Moorgate plus a plethora of mundane incidents like Fataccs, murders etc and although counselling was never offered, I never felt the need either. Perhaps we were made of tougher stuff then.

    • I think it comes back to The John Wayne Syndrome Alex. Not necessarily that we were made of tougher stuff, but ‘real men’ didn’t admit to needing any counselling or support. You had to deal with whatever the day threw your way because there was nobody else, and that experience toughened us. As for group counselling, as you say, forget, would never get off the ground in any meaningful way.

  7. Keira Cunningham says:

    I appreciate that some people may feel that they do not suffer from stress at work so long as they recognise that many of their colleagues do (and that they are no less good police officers because of it).

    Many colleagues who would never talk about feeling stressed will be living their lives in ways that showed that they were still struggling whether through gambling addiction, unhealthy sexual behaviour, violence eiether at work or in their relationships or drinking and/or drugs.

    I don’t think there are easy solutions but for a start making sure that officers know that work related stress is far more common and more importantly they are not alone in feeling that way. I remember sitting in a team meeting and a senior officer told his team about the stress he had been suffering and that he had needed time off to cope, I remember clearly the feeling in the room of people relaxing and the respect we felt for him for being so honest and showing that he trusted us as fellow officers.

    Finally. on the organsational side, no easy answers but, and this is just my opinion, just as much as we don’t talk about stress, I don’t think we remind supervisors, managers and yes HR of the ongoing need for a duty of care in the workplace.We should keep placing it front and centre when issues of officer behaviour and morale arise

    We need to keep speaking about these issues, so thank you Alan for your blog.

  8. Keira Cunningham says:

    I appreciate that some people may feel that they do not suffer from stress at work so long as they recognise that many of their colleagues do (and that they are no less good police officers because of it).

    Many colleagues who would never talk about feeling stressed will be living their lives in ways that showed that they were still struggling whether through gambling addiction, unhealthy sexual behaviour, violence eiether at work or in their relationships or drinking and/or drugs.

    I don’t think there are easy solutions but for a start making sure that officers know that work related stress is far more common and more importantly they are not alone in feeling that way. I remember sitting in a team meeting and a senior officer told his team about the stress he had been suffering and that he had needed time off to cope, I remember clearly the feeling in the room of people relaxing and the respect we felt for him for being so honest and showing that he trusted us as fellow officers.

    Finally. on the organsational side, no easy answers but, and this is just my opinion, just as much as we don’t talk about stress, I don’t think we remind supervisors, managers and yes HR of the ongoing need for a duty of care in the workplace.We should keep placing it front and centre when issues of officer behaviour and morale arise

    We need to keep speaking about these issues, so thank you Alan for your blog.

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